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Verizon unlimited subscribers get permanent Apple Music access

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Last year, Verizon (which owns Engadget’s parent company) offeredunlimited subscribers six months of free access to Apple Music. Now the carrier is expanding that partnership and officially bundling Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited subscriptions with the service. Starting on January 17th, all new and existing customers will be able to enjoy Apple Music at no additional cost. So, those who took advantage of the offer last year will be able to continue accessing the streaming service without having to pay its $10-a-month fee.

According to Verizon VP of Marketing Angie Klein, the company is expanding its partnership with Apple Music, because the original 6-month offer was a hit with customers. Unfortunately, only two out of three unlimited plans are getting Apple Music as a permanent perk. Its cheapest option, Go Unlimited, will still come bundled with free access to the service, but only for six months.

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Facebook Launches ‘Watch Parties’ to Binge Videos With Your Friends

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Facebook is throwing a video party. Starting today. For everyone. 

The social network is launching a new way to have groups of people who may be scattered across the country of globe watch videos together in real time, and comment on them. Unlike many Facebook launches, this will be available to all members today, as long as they are part of a group. It will roll out to other parts of Facebook within a few weeks, the company says.

Viewing video together is something “people do in real life,” says Fidji Simo, Facebook’s vice president of product. “They watch together. We see this as another way to connect people.”

Any kind of videos on Facebook can be viewed–from live broadcasts to funny viral cat videos, says Simo.

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Netflix Planning Ultra Subscription Price Increase

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With Netflix planning to spend $8 billion on original content for 700 shows and movies, the streaming giant is looking to expand its current subscription plans. Netflix is reportedly planning a new Ultra tier, which would end up increasing the current $13.99 premium option to $16.99.

Under the new plan, Premium users would still keep Ultra High-Definition streaming and up to 4 users streaming at once; but would lose HDR content to Ultra plans. It’s unclear when this plan will be available to the masses, but Netflix is currently testing it out in several international countries.

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Apple Music reportedly has more US subscribers than Spotify

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Apple Music has more paying subscribers in the United States than Spotify, according to confidential details shared with Digital Music News this morning.

The source, a US-based, major distributor, shared a report detailing the subscriber tallies of several streaming music services, including Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and Sirius XM.  That report now ranks Apple Music as first in the United States, at least among primarily on-demand music streaming services (Sirius XM Satellite Radio, which operates in North America exclusively, has more than 33 million subscribers).

Both Apple Music and Spotify have more than 20 million subscribers in America, with Apple now a hair ahead.  The source requested that we withhold exact subscriber numbers beyond mentioning ’20 million plus,’ to protect confidentiality.

The data for 2018 also shows that Apple is experiencing a far stronger rate-of-growth in the United States, suggesting a wider lead over the coming months.  Trial users were not part of the comparison.

The results aren’t entirely surprising.  Back in February, the Wall Street Journal noted that Apple’s US-based subscriber growth rate was 5% in the U.S., compared to Spotify’s 2%.  Using that data, the Journal predicted that Apple Music was ‘on the verge’ of surpassing Spotify.

Spotify’s freemium approach also includes substantial cut-rate plans, particularly for students, while Apple’s discounts appear more limited.

Overall, Apple Music now has more than 45 million subscribers globally, with an additional 5-10 million estimated free trial users.  Apple’s free trials typically last three months, with some exceptions (for example, in UAE).  Spotify boasts more than 70 million paying subscribers worldwide, with roughly 160 million overall users.

That sounds like a serious advantage for Spotify, though a recent head-to-head battle involving Drake’s latest album, Scorpion, revealed some surprising differences.  Overall, Apple Music scored 170 million streams of album tracks during the first week, while Spotify amassed an estimated 130 million.

The disparity strongly suggests that Apple is achieving far better user engagement, especially given Spotify’s extreme promotional push for the release.  It also raises questions of just how ‘active’ Spotify’s 160 million active users are.

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